Not a shipping post.
Let’s talk about Todoroki and the way he relates to people.
Specifically, to Midoriya and Bakugou.
I think it’s safe to say that the three of them are, at this point in the story, the Main Three. They’re arguably the strongest boy in class 1-A. They’re also, as I mentioned briefly before foils for each other.
So how do they relate?
Where Midoriya strikes up an easy friendship with Iida and Ururaka from the start, and Bakugou seems to become bro’s with Kirishima fairly early on, Todoroki is… slow to warm up to people.
The kid has spent his childhood isolated, so that’s easy to understand.
If you want to go symbolic, you could also say that his fire side, and how he uses it, quite literally makes him warm up to people. Getting to grips with that side of himself is a major part of his character development, and as he becomes more attuned to his own personality, it makes sense that he’d become more comfortable with other people as well.
Let’s start at de sports festival, because we get some very nice development for all three of them.
Todoroki vs Midoriya
Todoroki singles Midoriya out fairly early on, when he does that whole ‘declaration of war’ thing. At this point, I don’t think he does this purely based on merit? The kid he’s ‘going to beat’ barely made it into UA, he’s nowhere near the top of the class but Todoroki can recognize a quality seedling when he sees one.
He watched Midoriya’s fight with Bakugou in the Heroes & Villains exercise, he watched Midoriya jump in during the villain invasion.
And what he recognized there was that out of all of his classmates,
Midoriya is the one most like All Might.
He even says this, at some point.
And while it’s played off as a joke, with him assuming he’s All Might’s illegitimate son, he’s not… that far off, really?
Either way, it’s this link that draws him to Midoriya.
Todoroki, you see, is an All Might fanboy. (they literally all are)
He may have been ‘created’ as an Endeavour 2.0, to BEAT All Might, but in those moments with his mom, what he truly wanted was to be LIKE All Might.
He wants to be that kind of hero.
All Might himself mentions that the both of them had the same sort of vibe.
Among his peers, Midoriya is the closest to All Might 2.0, in type of power, in general disposition and in the sense that they’re literally pretty close.
It makes sense that Todoroki would see him as ‘the one to beat’.
Incidentally, this insight also makes Todoroki more likely to actually listen to Midoriya.
At this point, the kid is very dismissive of others.
It could be Kirishima telling him not to start fights, Bakugou coming to yell at him or even villains trying to murder All Might.
Todoroki kind of just swipes them aside as a ‘nuisance’.
However, when Midoriya talks, he listens.
Maybe it’s the All Might thing,
maybe it’s because the kid has a power that Todoroki is instinctively afraid of.
Or maybe, it’s because he knows that Midoriya is completely insane.
This is a student who is willing to injure himself to negate attacks. He’s willing to literally break his body to save people or win at things. He will literally do anything to come out on top.
To Todoroki this must look even weirder than to us, viewers.
Self-discipline, control, stoicism is his whole deal. He acts logically, and Midoriya is like the opposite of that, in a fight.
When the kid that just broke all his fingers starts yelling at him, he will damn well pay attention.
And when Midoriya, in his duel with Todoroki, says ‘Where are you looking’, he wants Todoroki to stop thinking of his dad and actually keep his head in the fight.
It works, too.
For once, Todoroki goes full out, and he later admits to his father that the reason he did so, was because he completely forgot about him. He let his instinct take over. Like he did in the cavalry battle. He’s so impressed with Midoriya’s innate strength that he can’t help but go all out.
Todoroki vs Bakugou
If Midoriya is the classmate most resembling All Might,
then in Todoroki’s eyes Bakugou must be the one most resembling Endeavour.
Certainly during the sports festival.
He’s brash. He’s so very full of himself, even his destructive power is similar to Endeavour’s flames. At this point Bakugou is also way more about being ‘number one’ and winning than about saving people.
As such, Todoroki has a very different rivalry with Bakugou than he has with Midoriya. Bakugou isn’t ‘special’ in the eyes of Todoroki.Not like Midoriya is.
Look at that kid. Todoroki just told Midoriya he wanted to beat him.
He told Midoriya, not Bakugou, first place student in the entry exam, that he sees him as his main rival.
And that Pisses Bakugou Off.
Because in Bakugou’s world, he’s the best. Certainly at this point in the story.
And Todoroki just.…refuses to acknowledge him.
You see this again and again.
The kid, admittedly, has an awful lot to deal with at this point. He’s very much trying to find himself, preferably in the ten minutes before the next fight.
So he’s back to dismissing anyone. Including Bakugou.
Fun fact: it’s really hard to dismiss of Bakugou.
When Bakugou says ‘Where are you looking’, he wants the kid to pay attention to him. But of course, that just reminds Todoroki of Deku, and that is incidentally the worst thing you could say to Bakugou.
I think it’s safe to say that these two just really don’t click.
Bakugou is a blip on Todoroki’s radar, and that really, really frustrates him, because all he wants is to beat Todoroki in a fair fight.
The way Midoriya received a fair fight.
It’s interesting to note that even in this fight, Todoroki only uses his flame side when Midoriya yells at him from the stands.
Midoriya is literally the fan to his flame.
But this time it doesn’t work.
So what made him extinguish those flames near the end?
It could be a lot of things. Todoroki is still in turmoil. He told his father he needed to think about things, and he hasn’t exactly had a lot of time to process in between the two fights. It would be highly unrealistic if one shouting session miraculously healed all Todoroki’s ingrained trauma.
You see him get a little flashback to his mom and dad right before his flames go out, which very much indicates that he’s just really struggling.
There’s also the very nature of Bakugou.
When he fights him, all Todoroki sees is flames and smoke.
All he hears is boasting. It feels very different.
The link to his father is much stronger.
Though both Bakugou and Midoriya want the same thing, to fight him at full power, Todoroki can only feel the need to do so when fighting Midoriya.
It’s not really Bakugou’s fault, but it just servers to frustrate him more.
Delving into manga territory now
Todoroki vs Midoriya, round 2
So how does it evolve from here on out?
The training camp arc is one of those first times we see Todoroki in his newer, softer form, though change is still slow.
Lookit my child creating fire to cook for his friends.
This is also about the time Midoriya and Todoroki seem to have reached some kind of understanding.
He even gives him some of the most symbolic advise I’ve read in this series.
Considering their background, this is really beautiful.
Todoroki is telling him how to deal with Kouta,
but it harkens back to their fight, and also to Todoroki’s past.
If anyone can understand how Kouta feels, it’s Todoroki, after all.
Endeavour may have told him what to do and how to behave all his life, that didn’t make him want to do it.
He simply didn’t believe it, because Endeavour didn’t really act like a hero (or even a decent human being) to his family.
All Might is Todoroki’s only real idol. He’s the reason he wants to be a hero, because he’s always saving people.
In a way, he’s telling Midoriya that the only reason he understood him during their duel, was because Midoriya was willing to get brutally murdered (ok almost) in order to save him.
But I digress.
Basically, over the course of the next few arcs, Todoroki sort of softens towards several of his classmates, including Midoriya.
It’s pretty funny that once he stops isolating himself and actually notices the people around him, he’s a pretty sensitive guy.
He is the first to notice that Midoriya’s affected by the stuff happening in his internship, for instance.
He’s also the one to offer comfort here.
Todoroki vs Bakugou, round 2
His relationship with Bakugou, meanwhile, hasn’t changed much, given the kid’s reaction to drawing him as a partner in the test of courage.
Also please note how awesome Todoroki’s ‘are you kidding me’ face is in this panel.
I actually really like these two in this arc, because what they do half the time is squabble and it’s funny.
I would almost call it a friendly rivalry? Sort of thing?
It’s obvious they don’t particularly like each other personally.
But they also don’t hate each other. Not really.
They may have gained a certain level of respect for each other, even.
They’re perfectly capable of working together, if need be.
A scene like that, where they work together to take down Tokoyami’s berserk shadow, requires a level of understanding and communication that I don’t see happening between Midoriya and Bakugou, for instance.
Not any time soon, at least.
We also learn in the provisional license exam that if Todoroki really hates a guy, he has trouble cooperating with him.
We see none of that here. They are willing to acknowledge each other.
Todoroki cares enough to be one of the first to decide on rescuing Bakugou.
This doesn’t mean they stop squabbling though.
All this time together for the provisional license course, and the only one that has grown a little is Todoroki.
Please note the use of ‘we’ here.
But his banter with Bakugou isn’t that different from his talks with others in his class. He’s slowly opening up to his classmates and, true, Bakugou is one of them. He’s not dismissing him anymore. In a way, Bakugou is just one of his classmates now, just like all the others.
Which probably just pisses him off, tbh.